Doing Diversity in Writing
DDW - S2 Ep03 -Interview with Antoine Bandele, author of TJ Young & the Orishas, Tales of Esowon, and The Sky Pirate Chronicles

DDW - S2 Ep03 -Interview with Antoine Bandele, author of TJ Young & the Orishas, Tales of Esowon, and The Sky Pirate Chronicles

January 26, 2022

In this episode of Doing Diversity in Writing, we—Bethany and Mariëlle—interview Antoine Bandele.

 

Antoine Bandele is an Amazon bestselling author in action adventure fantasy, dark fantasy, sword & sorcery, African American fantasy, and African literature. He was born and raised in Los Angeles, though he spent one year in Fort Lewis near Tacoma, Washington while his father served in the U.S. Army.

He lives in Los Angeles with his girlfriend and cat. You can find him producing videos all over YouTube, including his own channel (which you should totally check out). He is also an audiobook engineer. He is the author of the Young Adult fantasy series TJ Young and the Orishas, the Adult fantasy series The Sky Pirate Chronicles, the Lost Tales of Esowon, The Kishi and more. 

 

What we talked about

 

  • How Antoine identifies as a person and a writer
  • Why Antoine writes the characters he writes
  • What challenges have come up for him while writing diverse characters
  • Which authors he appreciates for their diverse books
  • The joy and importance of (public) libraries and why they’re the best place to go first when in research mode

 

(Re)sources mentioned on the show

 

 

This week’s episode page can be found here: https://representationmatters.art/2022/01/27/s2e3/

 

Subscribe to our newsletter here and get out Doing Diversity in Writing Toolkit, including our Calm the F*ck Down Checklist and Cultural Appropriation Checklist: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/r3p6g8 

 

As always, we’d love for you to join the conversation by filling out our questionnaires. 

 

Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Writer Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/UUEbeEvxsdwk1kuy5

 

Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Reader Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/gTAg4qrvaCPtqVJ36 

 

Don’t forget, you can find us at https://representationmatters.art/ and on https://www.facebook.com/doingdiversityinwriting 

Season 2 Episode 2 - Writing Race and Ethnicity in Fantasy & Sci-fi

Season 2 Episode 2 - Writing Race and Ethnicity in Fantasy & Sci-fi

January 20, 2022

In this episode of Doing Diversity in Writing, we—Bethany and Mariëlle—discuss the writing of race and ethnicity in fantasy and sci-fi stories.

 

What we talked about

  • How race and ethnicity is done in fiction and TV series that are not grounded in real-life human history
  • What gets lost and is added in translation when novels are turned into films or TV series
  • How to not let yourself be limited by the world we know when building a world of your own
  • That it’s never to late to start adding more diverse characters to your world, or to make your existing cast more diverse

 

The fiction and TV series we discussed in particular during this episode are: Babylon 5; Star Trek; Game of Thrones; The Witcher; and Shadow and Bone.

(Re)sources mentioned on the show

 

This week’s episode page can be found here: https://representationmatters.art/2022/01/20/s2e2/

 

Subscribe to our newsletter here and get out Doing Diversity in Writing Toolkit, including our Calm the F*ck Down Checklist and Cultural Appropriation Checklist: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/r3p6g8 

 

As always, we’d love for you to join the conversation by filling out our questionnaires. 

 

Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Writer Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/UUEbeEvxsdwk1kuy5

 

Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Reader Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/gTAg4qrvaCPtqVJ36 

 

Don’t forget, you can find us at https://representationmatters.art/ and on https://www.facebook.com/doingdiversityinwriting 

Season 2 Episode 1 -Writing Skin Color

Season 2 Episode 1 -Writing Skin Color

January 13, 2022

In this first episode of Season 2 of Doing Diversity in Writing, we—Bethany and Mariëlle—discuss how to write skin color.  

 

Here’s what we talk about:

  • Why we should avoid comparing anyone’s skin tone to food, even if people from a certain community do that among themselves
  • Why we should be careful when using the term ‘colored’ to describe black characters and characters of colour
  • What descriptions we CAN use and how to get creative
  • How important it is to actually look at what you’re describing 
  • That skin colour isn’t the only way how to convey someone’s racial or ethnic background

And here are the (re)sources we mentioned on the show:

 

This week’s episode page can be found here: https://representationmatters.art/2022/01/13/s2e1/

 

Subscribe to our newsletter here and get out Doing Diversity in Writing Toolkit, including our Calm the F*ck Down Checklist and Cultural Appropriation Checklist: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/r3p6g8 

 

As always, we’d love for you to join the conversation by filling out our questionnaires. 

 

Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Writer Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/UUEbeEvxsdwk1kuy5

 

Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Reader Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/gTAg4qrvaCPtqVJ36 

Don’t forget, you can find us at https://representationmatters.art/ and on https://www.facebook.com/doingdiversityinwriting 

Season 1 Episode 12 - Writing Holy Days and End of Season Q&A

Season 1 Episode 12 - Writing Holy Days and End of Season Q&A

December 16, 2021

In this final episode of the first season of Doing Diversity in Writing, we—Bethany and Mariëlle—discuss holy days and answer some listener questions. 

 

More specifically, we talk about:

  • the fact that there are many more holy days than Christmas and it serves us as writers of diverse characters to be aware of that
  • that stories around our holy days create worlds and images that serve some while excluding others
  • the American Thanksgiving and Dutch Sinterklaas traditions
  • the need to both revise and correct harmful origin stories AND create better represents for the present and future

 

And we answer the following questions:

  • Reading and research can only go so far, so how do I make sure that the characters I write are authentic without having direct knowledge of certain identity markers?
  • How can I write a diverse cast without making it seem forced?

Some quotes from this week’s episode:

 

“Reading and researching can only go so far, but it gets you further and further these days.”

 

“A really good way to not check boxes is to give every character their own personality and to start from that personality.”

 

“Saying ‘happy holidays’ is not a war against Christmas, it’s a war against excluding language.”

 

“It’s important to look closely at any holiday and realize that it is in fact a story. And story does something. So what does this story do?”

And here are the (re)sources we mentioned on the show:

 

This week’s episode page can be found here: https://representationmatters.art/2021/12/16/episode12/

 

To be the first to know when our next episode drops, subscribe to our newsletter here: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/r3p6g8 

 

As always, we’d love for you to join the conversation by filling out our questionnaires. 

 

Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Writer Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/UUEbeEvxsdwk1kuy5

 

Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Reader Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/gTAg4qrvaCPtqVJ36 

 

Don’t forget, you can find us at https://representationmatters.art/ and on https://www.facebook.com/doingdiversityinwriting 

Season 1 Episode 11 - Not All Descriptions Are Created Equal

Season 1 Episode 11 - Not All Descriptions Are Created Equal

December 8, 2021

In this episode of Doing Diversity in Writing, we—Bethany and Mariëlle—conclude our conversation about marking the unmarked by discussing description. 

 

In this third episode on the topic, we discuss:

  • marking and unmarking in terms of description
  • the Twilight series and the problematic use of dark and light
  • why we, as writers, have to consistently ask ourselves what the outcome is of the descriptive choices we make

 

Some quotes from this week’s episode:

 

“Describing things as good or bad, welcoming or frightening, is done differently depending on history, religion, region, and the history that the people involved have.”

 

“The associations we create as authors need to be mindful, and we need to be watching for what kind of implications those descriptions can have.”

 

“As writers, when we’re looking at describing places, we need to consider who we’re placing in that place and how we want our readers to think about them. If we’re using terms like “high-crime” and “distressed”, that paints a certain picture of anyone we place in that area.”

And here are the (re)sources we mentioned on the show:

  • “‘Twilight’: How much money did all 5 movies make?” by Abeni Tinubu:

https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/twilight-how-much-money-did-all-5-movies-make.html

 

This week’s episode is sponsored by Crystal Shelley’s Conscious Language Toolkit for Writers. You can find this handy resource by going to: https://www.rabbitwitharedpen.com/conscious-language-toolkit-for-writers. Listeners of this podcast now get 20% off by using the promo code DIVERSITYINWRITING.

 

This week’s bonus material can be found here: https://representationmatters.art/2021/12/09/episode11

 

To be the first to know when our next episode drops, subscribe to our newsletter here: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/r3p6g8 

 

As always, we’d love for you to join the conversation by filling out our questionnaires. 

 

Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Writer Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/UUEbeEvxsdwk1kuy5

 

Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Reader Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/gTAg4qrvaCPtqVJ36 

 

Don’t forget, you can find us at https://representationmatters.art/ and on https://www.facebook.com/doingdiversityinwriting 

Season 1 Episode 10 - Racial and Gendered Language

Season 1 Episode 10 - Racial and Gendered Language

December 2, 2021

In this episode of Doing Diversity in Writing, we—Bethany and Mariëlle—continue our conversation about marking the unmarked.

 

In this second episode on marking the unmarked, we discuss:

  • the importance of being conscious about the language you use AND how you use it
  • that language is forever changing and we need to keep up with it
  • how the gendered (and racial, etc.) use of language demonstrates the inequality of language
  • how conscious use of gendered (and racial, etc.) language can elevate your characters and story world 

 

Some quotes from this week’s episode:

“I don’t think we can go around judging ourselves and others for something we don’t know, unless we’re going out of our way to remain ignorant.”

 

“Apparently it’s OK to include women when using a male, unmarked noun, but it’s not done to include men when using a female, marked noun.”

 

“We need to know what kind of language our characters would use and think. How do they use gendered [or racial] language? How do they feel about such language? What are they signaling with its use or avoidance? If you are writing a futuristic society, have they done away with such language? Or have they doubled down on it? What can you say about a society through the use of grammar and grammatical markers without saying it aloud?”

 

“The language employed in a scene or entire story can designate rank and social values without ever actually acknowledging something.”

 

“One way to handle difficult language, such as gendered or racial language that you yourself do not agree with would be to allow the characters’ dialogue to contain such language, but, as long as they are not the narrator of the story, strip out any such usage from the narration of events.”

 

“I think of languages like a plant, some new leaves grow, some old leaves fall away.”

 

And here are the (re)sources we mentioned on the show:

 

This episode’s webpage can be found here: https://representationmatters.art/2021/12/02/episode10

 

We don’t have any bonus material this week, but please go fill out our questionnaires if you haven’t already:

 

Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Writer Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/UUEbeEvxsdwk1kuy5

 

Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Reader Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/gTAg4qrvaCPtqVJ36 

 

To be the first to know when our next episode drops, subscribe to our newsletter here: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/r3p6g8 

 

Don’t forget, you can find us at https://representationmatters.art/ and on https://www.facebook.com/doingdiversityinwriting 

Season 1 Episode 9 - Deborah Tannen, linguistics, and Peter Parker

Season 1 Episode 9 - Deborah Tannen, linguistics, and Peter Parker

November 25, 2021

In this episode of Doing Diversity in Writing, we—Bethany and Mariëlle—talk about marking the unmarked. It’s the first episode of three on the topic.

 

In this first episode on marking the unmarked, we discuss:

  • what we mean by “marked” and “unmarked”
  • how conscious marking and unmarking in our stories make us better writers
  • the “Everyman” archetype in literature
  • how the “unmarked” in Western society is slowly losing that privilege and how uncomfortable that is for them

 

Some quotes from this week’s episode:

“As writers, we mark all the time, we mark characters, we mark landscapes, items, ideas, pretty much anything that is in our stories gets either marked or is left unmarked, and both are significant and influence the reader’s experience.”

 

“Marking and unmarking happens all the time for our characters, they do it, and we do it for them above and beyond that. For example, how we describe our character marks or unmarks them, and how they describe or ‘see’ the world is also an act of marking or unmarking. Such actions can even drive a story.”

 

“When I’m writing a character, I’ll consider things like, ‘Do they wish they weren’t lost in the crowd, do they want to be marked and recognized or do they just want to finally be left alone and invisible? How do their desires show up in their language and how they mark others?”

 

“This Everyman character can be set into a world or extraordinary and act as the connection to the reader, much like the main character clutching his towel through The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He’s supposed to be the character readers identify with so they can access an alien landscape through him.”

 

And here are the (re)sources we mentioned on the show:

Season 1 Episode 8 - Diversity Within Diversity

Season 1 Episode 8 - Diversity Within Diversity

November 18, 2021

In this episode of Doing Diversity in Writing, we—Bethany and Mariëlle—talk about diversity within diversity and what writers can learn from the concept of intersectionality.

 

More specifically, we talk about:

  • how Kimberlé Crenshaw came to coin the term ‘intersectionality’
  • Black Lives Matter as an example of an organization that does diversity within diversity right
  • intersectionality as a lens that helps you see how each individual character is made up of different identity markers and how these identity markers intersect within that individual character
  • how a character’s set of identity markers might mean different things or lead to different situations depending on context
  • the fact that there are no universal characters – everyone is different because we’re all made up of different identity markers 
  • why we need characters who have multiple diverse identity markers
  • diversity as going beyond identity markers such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, (dis)ability and so on – it includes literally everything

 

Some quotes from this week’s episode:

“Identity markers intersect - hence the term intersectionality - and how they intersect in a given space and time influences how they affect your place in society, the kinds of stereotypes that exist about you, the kinds of expectations people have of you, and so on, depending on the context you find yourself in.”

 

“When we’re writing inclusively and adding diverse characters to our fiction, it’s really important to look beyond what might seem the single most important identity marker for a character.”

 

“If you have a white male character and you decide to make them gay, you have to think through how that might affect anything else in their story and the story overall.”

 

“Good writing always includes characters that make sense when considering where they’re from, what they’ve encountered in their lives, what emotional baggage they acquired along the way, and so on. Adding this intersectional lens through that uncovering of who your character truly is and what they want and need just helps having a firm grasp on these characters.”

 

And here are the (re)sources we mentioned on the show:

 

This week’s bonus material can be found here: https://representationmatters.art/2021/11/11/episode7

 

To be the first to know when our next episode drops, subscribe to our newsletter here: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/r3p6g8 

 

As always, we’d love for you to join the conversation by filling out our questionnaires. 

 

Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Writer Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/UUEbeEvxsdwk1kuy5

 

Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Reader Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/gTAg4qrvaCPtqVJ36 

 

Don’t forget, you can find us at https://representationmatters.art/ and on https://www.facebook.com/doingdiversityinwriting 

Season 1 Episode 7 - Tokenism in Literature

Season 1 Episode 7 - Tokenism in Literature

November 10, 2021

In this episode of Doing Diversity in Writing, we—Bethany and Mariëlle—talk about the third common pitfall when representing diverse characters: tokenism.

 

More specifically, we talk about:

  • what tokenism is and why it is problematic
  • why characters such as JK Rowling’s Cho Chang are the perfect example of tokenism
  • the custom of turning diverse characters into token sidekicks or “bit-players”
  • how Cassandra Clare avoids tokenism in her Shadowhunter series 
  • strategies to prevent tokenism in your fiction writing

 

Some quotes from this week’s episode:

“Tokenism is inclusion for the sake of inclusion. It’s not about making any actual changes but about appearances.”

 

“If we just merely add a few diverse characters to our stories just so our writing looks inclusive, chances are the story doesn’t leave any room for these characters’ lived experiences and realities to be fully investigated. If we only include them to make sure a particular minority is present within our writing so that we look like open-minded and progressive writers, we run the risk of reducing these characters to one-dimensional summaries of what we think their community is like and thinks like.”

 

“You can add a whole set of characters from the same community, but if they’re all more or less the same and don’t contribute to the plot beyond being their identity marker, if they get to contribute to the plot at all, it’s still tokenism. It’s really about the depth and complexity that a character is allowed to bring with them beyond whatever identity markers they might carry.”

 

“Proper research into our characters’ cultural, historical and political backgrounds will go a long way in creating more well-rounded characters with a developed background.”

“Even if you only have one character from a particular minority community in your work, allowing them space to be their own person beyond their identity markers will go a long way in making sure they don’t become tokens and in showing the diversity that exists within each and every community.”

And here are the (re)sources we mentioned on the show:

 

 

Please note that this is not the original video of Rachel Rostad performing the slam poem. At the time of uploading this episode, it was no longer available on YouTube.

 

 

This week’s bonus material can be found here: https://representationmatters.art/2021/11/11/episode7

 

To be the first to know when our next episode drops, subscribe to our newsletter here: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/r3p6g8 

 

As always, we’d love for you to join the conversation by filling out our questionnaires. 

 

Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Writer Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/UUEbeEvxsdwk1kuy5

 

Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Reader Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/gTAg4qrvaCPtqVJ36 

 

Don’t forget, you can find us at https://representationmatters.art/ and on https://www.facebook.com/doingdiversityinwriting 

Season 1 Episode 6 - Essentialism and Affirmative Myopia in Literature

Season 1 Episode 6 - Essentialism and Affirmative Myopia in Literature

November 3, 2021

In this episode of Doing Diversity in Writing, we—Bethany and Mariëlle—talk about two very common pitfalls when representing diverse characters: essentialism and affirmative myopia.

 

More specifically, we talk about:

  • what essentialism is and what makes it problematic
  • the fact that a lot of stereotypes that persist today are based on pseudo-scientific practices we don’t consider science anymore
  • what affirmative myopia is and why we need to avoid it
  • how the movies Stonewall (2015) and Carol (2015) both fell into the affirmative myopia trap
  • why bringing down the dominant group upholds the structures we are trying to overthrow

 

Some quotes from this week’s episode:

From Post-Colonial Studies: The Key Concepts by Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin: “Essentialism is the assumption that groups, categories or classes of objects have one or several
defining features exclusive to all members of that category. Some studies of race or gender, for
instance, assume the presence of essential characteristics distinguishing one race from another
or the feminine from the masculine.” 

 

“If we believe people are determined by their biological make-up, we’re basically saying that the way the world functions and our positions and situations within that world can’t really be changed. If existing power relations are in place because there is some inherent logic in our DNA that defines our place and role within society, how do you challenge the status quo?”

 

“Those essentialised stereotypes, which are often based on science we no longer consider real science, are still running rampant. We still have so many assumptions about the ‘other’ – those with different identity markers – floating around in our collective unconsciousness.” 

 

“This doesn’t mean we can’t have late black people, angry black women, violent Muslims, perfectly styled gay guys and butch lesbians in our work. But, whenever we write a character, we should make sure we didn’t give them these characteristics just because they are gay, lesbian, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim, young, old, poor, rich, and so on. We need to give them solid reasons and explainable circumstances for why they are being this way or why they are acting that way, one that goes beyond mere biology.” 

 

“If we, in our attempts to elevate those voices by representing them in better ways, fall into the affirmative myopia trap by, for example, negatively depicting those who’ve always been in power, we’re perpetuating the same structures that created that status quo in the first place. We lift one group by bringing another down.”

 

And here are the (re)sources we mentioned on the show:

 

This week’s bonus material can be found here: https://representationmatters.art/2021/11/04/episode6/

 

To be the first to know when our next episode drops, subscribe to our newsletter here: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/r3p6g8 

 

As always, we’d love for you to join the conversation by filling out our questionnaires. 

 

Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Writer Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/UUEbeEvxsdwk1kuy5

 

Our Doing Diversity in Writing – Reader Questionnaire can be filled in at https://forms.gle/gTAg4qrvaCPtqVJ36 

 

Don’t forget, you can find us at https://representationmatters.art/ and on https://www.facebook.com/doingdiversityinwriting 

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